I Stopped Cooking for My Family for Two Weeks and THIS is What Happened

Take THAT family. Mama is DONE with
cookin' dinner

I’ve been cooking dinner for myself since I was a teenager. I wooed my now husband with my cooking. And once he married me, I kept cooking. I used to love it.

I tried to keep up with cooking when our babies were born. But, you know how it is in those early days of motherhood….. Totally friggin’ bonkers.

The only home-cooked meals we ate after the birth of our babies were my mother’s frozen meatballs. GAWD bless that woman - she made enough to last for weeks.

Once I was getting a bit more sleep – I began cooking again. I really ramped it up when the babies started on solid foods. I felt it was important to instill a love of fruits and vegetables in my children. And a love of different spices and herbs. It was important to introduce them to different textures. I even made baby food using whatever was in-season and organic.

Just like any other parent, I do my best to feed my family nutritious meals. To achieve that goal – I’ve scoured grocery store aisles for more hours than I can count. I’ve stood at a stove for more hours than I’ve ever dreamed possible. And while I used to love cooking, and love sniffing fresh basil and love researching the right flavors for a new meat marinade - I loved it when I was alone. Single. And unencumbered.

The “quick” meals I am expected to churn out during the course of the week for my family, are NOT enjoyable. I loathe them actually.

While cooking a healthy meal is in theory making my whole family healthy – it’s killing me. It kills my soul. It kills me physically. And I’m left steaming. Boiling, really.

So I stopped cooking for two weeks. This is what happened…

1. I stopped drinking alcohol. This wasn’t a conscious decision. It just kinda happened. I usually drink a couple glasses of wine while I cook the 30-minute, slapped together meals. I drink to numb the bore that is staring at a stove and chopping vegetables. So, I was accidentally sober for two weeks. And dare I say, it felt really good.

2. I saved money on wine. An added bonus to my accidental sobriety. I usually go through 3 bottles of wine a week. At $14 dollars a bottle – you’re lookin’ at about a savings of $84 over the course of two weeks.

3. I stopped smoking cigarettes. Spare me the, you know smoking is bad for you, chat. I know it is. But, I’m a puffer when there’s a drink in my hand. The two vices go hand in hand. Without drinking, and cooking dinner – I didn’t want to smoke. It’s all about association folks.

4. I saved money from not buying cigarettes for two weeks. That’s 11 bucks back in my pocket (Southern prices folks).

5. I was really productive. You know – from not poisoning myself with wine and cigarettes. And, having extra time to write! I’m a freelance writer – so I determine how much money I make. I was so productive I made TWICE as much money in two weeks than I normally do.

6. Re-gained hours back to my life. This is related to #5. But, lemme me break down it down for you. Every week, I brainstorm meal options to cook my family. When I find new recipes, I jot down the ingredients into a grocery list. This list takes like 10-20 minutes depending on how many distractions are present (AKA screaming, peeing, pooping needy children). Then I have to actually go grocery shopping. It would be nice if I could purchase all of my food items from one store. But that’s not entirely possible. You see, the healthy, organic, schmorganic grocer has a great selection of fresh produce and meats. But, they charge a butt-load for the granola bars my kids like. The big box store down the street from the organic, schmorganic store charges like a penny for the same granola bars. Alas, I go to two stores for my grocery needs.

Two stores = 2 hours. Total hours re-gained by not meal-planning = close to 3 hours PER WEEK.

7. I saved on gas money from driving to each grocery store. I live in the suburbs so everything is pretty spread out. I probably saved in all – a quarter of a tank of gas.

8. I ordered take-out. We could get about 2 nights worth out of one order. In all, I paid approximately $150 per week for take-out food.

9. No fights at the dinner table. There was no coercing or bribing the kids to eat vegetables. There was no fretting over why my kids only seems to eat meat in the shape of a dinosaur. Everyone ate the take-out food and no one pitched a fit. So, I had a big epiphany. Maaaaybe my kids hate MY cooking??

10. I gained 3 pounds. I was PMSing for one of those weeks. So whatever. I don’t know what this means. I probably should’ve used my former grocery shopping time or cooking time to exercise – but I filled it with other things.

11. I folded more laundry. Instead of me cherry picking clean clothes from the dryer all week – I actually folded the clothes. AND put them away.

12. I played with my kids. In truth, I don’t loooooovvveee playing with my kids. Barbies and playing “house” is usually quite painful. However, I think, the fact that I’m usually frazzled in the evenings with the marathon of making dinner, doing homework, cleaning up and doing bedtime stories makes me have zero tolerance for playing with my kids. Without dinner making responsibilities, I had enough tolerance (and patience) to endure 30 minutes of Barbie play time.

13. I enjoyed my kids more. Usually, when the kids get out of school in the afternoon it’s a race to run errands or run them to their activities. Obviously, the shuffle to extracurricular activities remained unchanged. But, without the added stress of getting home to cook dinner and have it ready at a reasonable time. Which was PRICELESS.

I’ll admit, we didn’t have the most nutritious meals. I’ll grant you that. But, we didn’t eat total garbage either. And, given what I gained from not cooking dinner for my family (besides those friggin’ 3 pounds)…I think the main thing I learned – is that I need more balance. And if that means cooking less dinner to achieve it – I’m all for it.

I don’t have to make a family meal every night, or every other night for everyone (including myself) to be happy and healthy.

Have you gone on a cooking hiatus? Do you cook every night (or most) nights for your family? What would you gain or lose by not cooking as much?

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